Dec. 2, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Six standout players signed a National Letter of Intent to play softball for the University of Iowa head coach Marla Looper announced Monday. Daniella Ibarra of Emerson, NJ, Sarah Kurtz of Herndon, Va., Cheyenne Pratt of Festus, Mo., Angela Schmiederer of Prospect Heights, Ill., Koral Smith of Tavares, Fla., and Allie Wood of Cypress, Calif. will all be Hawkeyes in 2014-15.
"We are very excited to have signed such a deep and versatile class," Looper said. "It is our goal every year to go get the best talent that will work within our system to help us win a Big Ten Championship and ultimately compete for a national championship. We have always had talent in some key positions on the field, but this class will give us talented depth up the middle. Adding Angela behind the plate, Daniella in the middle infield, Cheyenne and Allie in the outfield, Koral on the mound, and Sarah in the outfield and infield will give us the much needed depth to go with the veteran returners to bring home championships.
"We of course still have to get after it every day and put all the pieces together to do that, but with the variety of talent that will be in place, the opportunity is there."
Ibarra helped Immaculate Heart Academy win three consecutive state sectional, county, and league championships in 2011-13, and a state championship in 2012. She was named first team all-state, first team all-non-public, first team All-Bergen County, and second team All-America by MAXPREPS after hitting .542 with 54 hits, 17 doubles, one home run, and 25 RBIs as a junior.
As a sophomore, The Star Ledger named her second team all-non-public and second team All-Bergen County, The Bergen Record named her first team Big North United Conference and second team all-county, and The Ridgewood News placed her on the all-suburban squad and recognized her as 2012 Sophomore Player of the Year. She hit .430 in 2012 with 34 hits, 21 RBIs, and one home run, contributing to the team's state title and perfect 32-0 season.
Ibarra, who did not make the full transition to softball until high school, posted a .341 batting average, with 31 hits and 22 RBIs in her freshman season. She also played basketball and ran winter track and field. Ibarra played summer ball for the New Jersey Pride.
"Daniella has great skills and ability at shortstop," Looper said. "She has a background in baseball and in recent years transitioned to softball. She has the grit and determination needed to play at this next level and will be a huge asset to our middle infield. She has done a good job in the offensive transition between baseball and softball, and I can't wait to see her continue to develop."
Kurtz is a three-year softball letter winner at Herndon High School. She hit .380 with a .509 on-base percentage and .577 slugging percentage as a junior, and was a first team Concorde District Group AAA honoree and Northern Region (VA) All-Tournament team selection.
In her sophomore season, Kurtz was named team MVP and first team Concorde District Group AAA after posting a .483 batting average, .537 on-base percentage, and .613 slugging percentage. As a freshman, she earned second team Concorde District Group AAA honors after hitting .408 with a .485 on-base percentage and a .527 slugging percentage.
Kurtz played summer ball for the Richmond Ruckus 18U ASA Gold in 2013 and the Vienna Stars 18U Gold from 2010-12. She helped the Stars win titles at the Louisville Slugger Independence Day Tournament (Boulder, Co.) and Surf City Fall Showcase (Huntington Beach, Calif.), and qualify for PGF Nationals each year. Kurtz was also an "Adidas Futures" Team Participant in 2010.
Kurtz also excels academically. She has been an Academic A/B Honor Roll honoree and Northern Region (VA) Athletic Honor Roll (3.5 GPA or higher) each year, and received an Academic Excellence Award. She is also the editor-in-chief of The Stinger high school newspaper, a member of the National Honor Society, a Diamond Sports Training (DST) camp counselor, Interact club member, Young Life member, and supports the community through church youth group mission trips and by coaching baseball to mentally and physically disabled players through the Herndon Optimist Buddy Ball program.
"Sarah is the most versatile player in this class," Looper said. "I look for her to give us depth in both the infield and outfield. She has continued to improve through the years and in the recruiting process. She has truly made a commitment to become both faster and stronger, through countless hours with her strength coaches, knowing it would help her at the next level."
Pratt is a four-time first team all-district and first team all-conference, and a two-time first team all-region selection and first team all-state honoree from Festus High School. She helped Festus accomplish district, conference, sectional, and quarterfinal championships and a fourth place Class 3 State finish as a junior, as well as district and conference titles as a freshman.
Pratt owns several Festus High School records including: most steals in a single game (4); plate appearances (120), stolen bases (26), singles (50), runs scored (42), and hits (63) in a single season; and stolen bases (90), batting average (.551) and fielding percentage (.991) in a career. She played summer ball for the Saint Louis Chaos 96.
The Festus, Mo., native also earned first team academic all-state honors, received the Renaissance Gold award, and has been on the honor roll.
"Cheyenne is a little fireball," Looper said. "She has great enthusiasm for the game and her team, and has great skill to go with it. She should be a predominate figure in the outfield during her career, and we look to use her speed on the bases to drive the opponents crazy. She has added some depth to her offensive game this past year, and we will continue to get her to be a threat in a variety of ways as she develops and understands the speed of the collegiate game."
Schmiederer is a three-year letter winner for John Hersey High School. She earned all-conference and Northwest All-Area recognition as a junior after hitting .354 with a .413 on-base percentage. As a sophomore, she hit .325 with a .384 on-base percentage and was named All-School Athlete of the Month after hitting .629 March through April.
Schmiederer played her summer ball for the Illinois Chill Gold Fall from 2010-2013. She helped the Chill record Top 9 finishes at the Boulder Independence Day Tournament and the Demarini Invitational in 2013 and a Top 17 result at the PGF National 18U tournament in 2012 as the team's primary catcher.
The Prospect Heights, Ill., native is also a coordinator for Life Source Blood Drive, a Big Brother-Big Sister coordinator for special needs students, and a food drive volunteer. She is a part of the Senior Leader Program and was placed on the Honor Roll in 2012.
"Angela is joining us from one of the top Chicagoland club organizations," Looper said. "She will be the biggest asset as far as depth in a position. Although we have had good talent, we have been thin behind the plate these past few years. With the rigors of that position, it is nice to have some options. Angela is an intelligent catcher, and I know our pitchers will enjoy working with her daily."
Smith is a two-time Lake/Sumter County selection from Tavares High School. She has helped Tavares to a District championship and Regional runner-up finish in 2011, and District runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2012.
In her junior season, Smith earned a 0.82 ERA with a 14-3 mark in the circle and 131 strikeouts. She also hit .388 with 18 RBIs and a home run. She posted a 12-3 record in the circle, a 0.65 ERA, 143 strikeouts, and a .333 batting average with 20 RBIs and one home run as a sophomore. In her freshman campaign, Smith hit .438 with 32 RBIs, and compiled a 13-5 record with 154 strikeouts and a 0.79 ERA.
Smith played summer ball for Wagner's 18U Gold, which placed ninth at Nationals in 2013, and Florida Select 18U Gold. She was also highlighted in ES3 Magazine and is a four-year Honor Society member.
"Koral will be joining us in the circle after the graduation of one of our programs mainstays, Kayla Massey," Looper said. "Those will be big shoes to fill, but I know Koral is up for the challenge. What she is lacking in stature, she has in spunk and determination and has the attitude to attack every batter she faces. I know she will give us the balance we need to counter Shayla and Micaela next season."
Wood is a three-time all-league selection from Cypress High School. She was named team MVP as a sophomore, and third team all-county as a junior. Wood also played volleyball and was named team captain.
Wood played five years of travel ball for the OC Batbusters and one year for Team Smith.
"Allie is another addition to our outfield," Looper said. "She has good size and athleticism and will add more depth. She has been a part of high caliber club teams in Southern California throughout her prep career. We look for her to mesh that experience with the development she will gain here to help her and our team succeed."
UI softball opens the regular season at the Carolina Classic on Feb. 7-9. The Hawkeyes will face UNC-Greensboro, Presbyterian, Ohio, and host South Carolina in the three-day tournament.
|2014-15 Recruiting Class|
|Daniella Ibarra||IF||5-8||Emerson, N.J.|
|Sarah Kurtz||OF/IF||5-7||Herndon, Va.|
|Cheyenne Pratt||OF||5-2||Festus, Mo.|
|Angela Schmiederer||C||5-6||Prospect Heights, Ill.|
|Koral Smith||P||5-5||Tavares, Fla.|
|Allie Wood||OF||5-9||Cypress, Calif.|